World Series of Poker trims field to nine

Friday, July 15, 2005

LAS VEGAS -- Poker's top players and unknowns were in a high-stakes showdown Thursday, each looking to make the nine-person final table at the World Series of Poker's main event and grab a piece of gambling glory.

But not all will be playing Friday after round six of the no-limit Texas Hold 'em tournament moved to the legendary Binion's Gambling Hall & Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, where the World Series began 36 years ago.

Only 18 players remained of the 27 who started Thursday, and last year's champ, Greg "Fossilman" Raymer, along with pro Phil Ivey, were among those out of the game.

Raymer held the fifth spot with $3.8 million when the day began. But he suffered some crippling losses, leaving him in serious trouble with about $415,000 late in the afternoon.

Raymer lost about $2 million when he called Aaron Kanter, who had gone all-in. Raymer's two kings fell short when Kanter hit a flush on the river, or final card.

Minutes later, Raymer went all-in with an ace-nine and lost to pocket 5s, sending him home without another title.

"If you make it this deep and don't win, you're disappointed," said Raymer, who finished 25th.

Ivey and Kanter went all-in before the flop. Ivey had pocket jacks against Kanter's pocket kings. Kanter made three kings on the flop and Ivey couldn't catch up.

"I guess I'll just have to wait until next year," Ivey said moments after busting out of the World Series.

At the dinner break, Kanter led with $6.7 million, followed by Daniel Bergsdorf and Joseph Hachem with $6.5 million each. Mike "The Mouth" Matusow was in fourth place with $6.3 million.

Steve Dannenmann and Tex Barch were still alive.

The last woman from an overall field of 5,619 players who began play at the Rio hotel-casino was amateur Tiffany Williamson. The London corporate attorney stood in 15th place with $1.1 million. No woman has ever won poker's richest and largest event, and only one has made it to the final table.

Expect Matusow and other pros with big chip stacks to test the surviving players repeatedly, forcing them to make difficult decisions while avoiding the tough ones themselves. Matusow and Ivey have considerable experience in high-stakes games and are not likely to buckle under the glare of television cameras and the intense atmosphere that swallowed up the room at Binion's.

After play ended Wednesday, Matusow said he didn't expect to crack with a prize of $7.5 million awaiting the winner.

"For five days, I've kept my head together," Matusow said. "I just need to keep it together for two more. I've stayed phenomenally patient and picked my spots."

If Matusow wins, it should lessen the pain of a loss he suffered in the 2004 World Series, when his ace-king lost to an ace-queen when the river turned up to be a queen. The outcome had Matusow in tears, and he ended up in 87th place.

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